Students benefit from £1m county grant deal
A pioneering financial scheme to support every Cornish student with the costs of living and studying at university has been announced by Cornwall Council.
The scheme, the first of its kind by any local authority in the country, is part of a range of measures being introduced by the council to raise students' aspirations and encourage more to go to university.
It will initially cost £1 million, rising to £3 million in 2016/17. An estimated 4,000 students will benefit from a universal one-off payment of £30 with those from less well-off families eligible for grants of up to £1,000-a-year.
Councillor Neil Burden, portfolio holder for children's services, said: "Although the number of young people from Cornwall going to university has increased in recent years, it is still lower than the national average, particularly with regard to the numbers attending the more selective universities.
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"We want to ensure that increased tuition fees do not put our young people off from going into higher education and encourage more of them to apply to the top universities."
The grants, from September 2014, will be available to students from homes with joint incomes of less than £42,600. It is thought 900 will qualify for £1,200 and 400 at the leading universities for £3,000, over three years.
Criteria will focus on "economic priority subjects".
The money will be registered on a pre-paid card which can used to pay for items such as text books, e-books, stationery, travel cards, broadband and groceries, excluding cigarettes and alcohol.
The £30 payment is set to be based on a three-year residency in Cornwall requirement.
The plan has been developed in partnership with Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), further education colleges, the group Unlocking Cornish Potential and young people.
CUC director Dr Sue Brownlow praised the council's commitment to young people.
"One of Cornwall's success stories since the formation of the Combined Universities in Cornwall partnership 12 years ago has been the increase in the number of our young people getting a university education, which we know then can make a big difference to the rest of their lives," she said.
"We still have further to go, particularly to encourage Cornish young people to aim for top A level results and the very best courses. I really welcome this scheme as a visionary move from the council which will help support those students facing genuine financial pressure while they are studying."
Joe Vinson, president of Cornwall College Students' Union, said: "The national support offered by the Government is simply inadequate, and it's great news that Cornwall Council not only recognises this, but has also taken action."
The proposed scheme will be discussed by members of the council's children, education and families overview and scrutiny committee on July 13. Their views will then be reported to the council's cabinet which will make the final decision.